Various Agriculture Sector Policies that Impact GHG Emissions
In 2009, GHG emissions from the agriculture sector represented around 21% (107 MteqCO2) of the total emissions in France. Between 1990 and 2008, the emissions in the agriculture and forestry sector were reduced by 8% (around -9 MteqCO2). However, the Directorate General of Energy and Climate of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Sea observed that these emissions increased between 2007 and 2008 by 2.3%. This increase was caused in part by the abolition of letting fields lie fallow, which led to the increase of cultivated areas and helped promote the development of biofuels.
In France, applied policy measures in the agriculture sector rely on two complementary pillars:
Mitigation, aiming at reducing GHG emissions, especially through the increase of carbon sinks and fossil fuel energy substitution;
Adaptation to climate change.
Concerning mitigation, the following policy measures have been taken:
National Climate Plans (Plans Climats Nationaux): The first National Climate plan of 2004 proposed emission reduction measures in the agriculture sector but without specifying the real means to implement them. It focused national efforts on control of nitrogen fertilization, collection and recovery of biogas and valorization and development of products coming from biomass.
The Grenelle Environnement Forum: The discussions on “agriculture and climate” in 2007 especially focused on reducing the energy consumption of farms. The Grenelle Law 1 adopted in August 2009 calls for reduction “if possible” of pesticide use by 50% by 2018, and the goal of having 20% of agricultural production consist of organic products by 2012. The government also proposed having 30% of French farms with low energy dependence by 2013. In addition, a Plan for Plant Proteins (Plan Protéines Végétales) as part of the “Plan Objectif Terres 2020” was developed to support financially the culture of protein crops as they have a direct interest in reducing GHG emissions. Overall the content of the measures proposed by the Grenelle Environment Forum are quite ambitious and require a lot of investments. Most of the targets have not been achieved yet but the Government and the regions are deploying efforts to achieve them.